Saturday, February 11, 2012

Who's the Man of God?

A few years ago, I heard a good brother preach on 2 Timothy 3:16,17 - in which he said, among other (and better) things, that Scripture was useful so that the person of God may be thoroughly equipped for godly living.

I don't object, on this occasion, to the substitution of gender neutral language.  I object that he's missed the whole point of the text.

Look it up: 'man of God' in both Testaments always means a preacher.  In the OT, it's Moses or the prophets; in the New Testament, actually it's always Timothy.

What Paul is saying in 2 Timothy is not that the Scriptures are useful for everyone.  Of course, that is true - it's just not what he's saying.  What he is saying is that the Scriptures alone are all that the pastor/teacher needs for his work: he is, by the knowledge of the Bible, 'thoroughly equipped' for every good work he is called to do.

He is not saying that Betty Christian does her quiet time in the morning and finds that her set passage for the day corrects her doctrine and rebukes her behaviour.  That is true, too.  But what Paul is saying is that Timothy must use the Scripture to teach, correct, rebuke and train in righteousness.  And he says it again in 4:2.

Two things follow from a proper understanding of the text.  One, the pastor must correct and rebuke - and when church members take offence at that, as they often do, that's because they've misunderstood their relationship to the pastor.  When a church member asks 'Who do you think you are?' the only proper answer is 'I think I'm the man of God.  And this is what the Bible says a man of God should do.'

Two: what can't be done with Scripture is not the pastor's job.


Jonathan Hunt said...

Man of God here likes this post.

Any chance you are venturing to the Banner this year?

Gary Benfold said...

It's in the balance at the moment, Jonathan - due to an error of judgement on my part.